The method in Yoruba’s madness

In the chaos of the receding week, Twitter still offered something to laugh about. Maybe, it wasn’t comic relief per se, because tweeps, increasingly bonding a la virtual, were as irritated with the laffin mata (apology to Gbenga Adeyinka), as with late SARS. If Yoruba race didn’t realise it was riling its tweeting generation, @the_keeny’s disgust, was all the lynch-mob needed, to rip the Oduduwa clan into fragments.

She had complained, “I knew Yoruba people were mad the day I addressed someone as mummy Bayo and she said Bayo is not my mate. It should be mummy brother Bayo”. Hours after spewing her distaste, 20,700 tweeps had liked, 14,000, commented and 988, re-tweeted, with almost none seen, in favour of the preservation of the controversial social respect concept. Considering the multiple dimensions to the controversy, interest in lampooning the idea and its protectionists, must have soared into the mesosphere, by now.

Many commenters made it seem a generational war of sort, though some men and women of their generation are seen not immune to the perceived gerontocratic malady. Considering the widespread bile directed at what the younger generation thinks should have been history, like the consigned idea of forcible marriage of the past, it really won’t be long, before the respect thing, would take the centre-stage in the socio-cultural tensions that regularly erupt between the young and the old. Maybe now, it would slightly be different, because many young people, already sucked into the mindset, would be taking the side of the elders, though the overwhelming social media opposition, is currently keeping everybody in line, not to become the punching bag of twitter.

Interestingly, at the heart of the debate, is the issue of pride. Funny enough, both sides, think the other party, is guilty. The young lady obviously thinks Mummy Bayo is garrulous, seeking layered regard, for herself and her Bayo son, who wasn’t even in action, when the lady, was seen to be committing the sacrilege of disrespecting her elder, in this case, Brother Bayo. How hilarious!

Mummy Bayo peppered the young lady, for perceivable pride. Yoruba pride culture over modernity. Whether Bayo is around or not, the young lady, is being taught, in Ma Bayo’s thinking, of how to retain the sensibility that Bayo is older than her and must be accorded the verbal respect. Wish the old woman knows the disgust in the lady’s heart, at being forced to add double honours to her, simply because of the age difference between her and Bayo. May God help mothers! Unknown to Ma Bayo, she is recruiting needless enemies like Kemmzee for her son, for no fault of his. Considering the deducible wrath of @the_kenny, there is no way, she would not transfer her angst to Bayo, despite not having issues. You then ask, of what use, is social respect, when forced and enforced in ways that heap a lot of tension on homes, marriages, families, friendship, community, churches, workplaces and everywhere.

Yes, the practice could be culturally Yoruba, but it is practically everywhere, maybe except remote North, because even if you address a semi-literate Northerner in Abuja in a way that seems anyhow to him, you will get something like, “I go be your mate?”. Inside Wuse market where Igbo traders hold sway, you will hear something like “I be your mate?”. Before you are done, anywhere in Lagos, it is “se egbe e ni?” Just like many tweeps confessed, many relationships, including with close family members and childhood playmates, have been deliberately abandoned, to avoid the tension of arguing out the broda/aunti-aspect of interactions or big fights from disagreement on proper, culturally-acceptable ways of addressing those older by a few months.

I didn’t read this anywhere, but I figure this age-long practice has its root in slavery. No, I’m not canvassing the triumph of the rebellion. Yoruba had always been successful in war and acquisition and to serve as a marker between slaves and trueborns, the former were mandated to lay flat in addressing their captors, long before the whites came. Slaves-turned-trueborns sustained the act and became something for everyone, in lower social cadre. Call it Yoruba homegrown respect culture, which many would argue is today, at the heart of the Omoluabi ethos. But how does one capture something like “Broda Bayo, ori yin o pe” (Brother Bayo, you aren’t ok). The conveyance in the oxymoronic remonstration has invalidated whatever value the respect prefix, engenders. So, why don’t we allow this thing, to be of the heart and not the head?

Although, Yoruba’s civilisation is legendary, there are areas still considered primitive, just like other civilisations, which modern education, both formal and informal, hasn’t been able to radicalise. One of such is the dobale syndrome, of which I am a believer and practitioner. It used to be the height of the demonstration of omo Yoruba atata. I remember Akinwunmi Ambode’s children, making the frontage of dailies when President Muhammadu Buhari paid their father, as governor, a working visit which shut down the state, simply because the young male dobale, (prostrated) and the young female kunle (knelt). They were hailed as bibire, despite being butty. Younger generation of Yoruba abroad are always thumbed up whenever they demonstrate the cultural stuff in greeting. They are taken to be well-taught and well-brought up.

Well, this could be a fallacy; that of hasty generalisation. Something tells me Ambode’s kids would have coached times without number, to do “it”, for a father already in political wilderness, seeking Abuja redemption.

Anything done under false pretence is dangerous. It is like a child being compelled to appear born-again at home, who sneaks out with extra clothing, to be himself/herself when on outings alone or with friends. Such kids always return either impregnated or impregnating. The only Creed that one must not be without, is, of the Lord. Omoluabism has made Yoruba very distinct but the communal training must be total for the younger generation to have a holistic appreciation of social respect. Yes, the younger generation has been grotesque to behold, but the older generation was the mirror those behind were checking out. If those ahead hadn’t gone so ugly, maybe, we won’t be lamenting the unborn beautiful ones. If leaders and elders would return to the path of honour, who knows, there may not be any need for Mummy Brother Bayo concept again. Esin iwaju ni teyin nwo sare. Won’t interpret.


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